Our new exhibition 100 Objects: An Archive of Feelings showcases 100 treasures from our archive, arranged according to the feelings happiness, care, desire, anger and fear. There’s plenty to talk about, so we asked the show’s curator Peter Rehberg all the burning questions.
SMU: What’s there to see at the exhibition?
Peter: You can see 100 items from our collection. So, you’ll find a West Berlin Tuntenball costume from the 1980s, there’s a lesbian knit sweater, a Harvey Milk stamp pin, and many other highlights. There are many three dimensional objects, and also some great rarities from our Art and Photography Collection, for instance, the piece ”Bartfrau” (Bearded Woman) by Tabea Blumenschein, who sadly passed away in February. The exhibition also presents artworks by Rüdiger Trautsch, Wilfried Laule, Petra Gall and Jürgen Baldiga.
How did you choose 100 objects from of a collection of 1.5 million pieces?
Our approach was very intuitive. Me and my co-curator Ben Miller invited a few people, volunteers, colleagues and participants from the project. We asked everyone what they’d like to see in the exhibition, and they chose objects closest to their hearts. It was quite an emotional selection process.
Is that the reason for the title ”100 Objects: An Archive of Feelings”?
Exactly, though someone had already come up with the title before. ”An Archive of Feelings” is the title of a book by Ann Cvetkovich, in which she explores queer qualities of feelings. That idea raised many questions: Does the object imply a feeling? Or is it the viewer’s perception that creates it? If you look at Jürgen Baldiga’s self-portrait, for instance, you’ll notice the sadness and despair in the eyes of a man who is dealing with his Aids diagnosis; but at the same time he is wearing a clown’s nose, offering a playful, grimly funny contrast. This piece is one of the first things you get to see in the show, and I think it has such an emotional impact that you will have to deal with your own feelings before you can piece together what it may mean.
Have you got any feedback from guests yet?
Many are happy to see the archive represented so lovingly and extensively. Most are surprised by the sheer amount of different and fascinating objects Schwules Museum owns. Most of the time, our exhibitions hardly feature any of the pieces from our archives. Obviously, it does not have to be like this. You can address so many current topics and questions, just by looking at the Museum’s own collection. Let me tell you, there’s a lot to discover!